Can celebrity endorsements affect political outcomes? evidence from the 2008 US democratic presidential primary

Craig Garthwaite*, Timothy J. Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Identifying the effects of political endorsements has historically been difficult. Before the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, Barack Obama was endorsed by talk show host Oprah Winfrey. In this article, we assess the impact of this endorsement using, as measures of Winfrey's influence, subscriptions to her magazine and sales of books she recommends. We find that her endorsement increased Obama's votes and financial contributions, and also increased overall voter turnout. No connection is found between the measures of Oprah's influence and previous elections, nor with underlying political preferences. Our results suggest that Winfrey's endorsement was responsible for approximately 1 million additional votes for Obama.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-384
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Law, Economics, and Organization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Law

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